Hey everybody! I know it's been quite a while since I've published anything written, and I'm finally feeling ready to do that! For me, writing is fundamentally a creative endeavor (even with life updates like this), and it's quite hard to generate the ability to create unless I feel the creative "wind in the sails". With all the transition and so on it's been a while since I've had that. It finally landed this morning :)
After so many layers of preparation (see Why Phoenix for some of the layers) and making our way towards Phoenix, it was finally time to head out west! We were able to get a house in South Tempe (a total God-story there, but I'll have to share that another time), and in late February we packed up a moving truck in northern Chicagoland (while it snowed no less, a perfect transition to the Valley of the Sun) and made our way across the country. 1800 miles with 2 adults, 3 kids, 1 dog, and 1 cat all packed in our minivan while we drove and drove and drove.
It was an adventure, but we made it out and before we knew it we were driving into the valley to come to our new home. How exciting!
After getting unpacked and working to get home set up (which is still in process), I was surprised by how different it is out here! Simple things like what plants we have, or what our house is made of (and hence how I hang things on the walls) were totally different than what I was used to. I liked it all, it still made me feel like I was in a place I didn't know how to be in a lot more than I was used to. I had a few months where more than feeling excited I just felt off. I dialed in extra on my times with the Lord and worked as much as I could to ground myself with things like exercise and sleeping well. I've been hiking so much more than I ever had the chance to earlier - that photo up top was from my hike this morning.
After about three months I began to feel myself settling into a new normal. The weird plants didn't seem so weird anymore; the house felt a little less strange. I felt myself beginning to relax inside in a way that I struggled do for a while. I'm at about four months in and it's still somewhat back-and-forth, but it's feeling a lot less strange to be out here. And I love it! It's just great being here. Phoenix is a super cool city. The people are interesting, the geography is beautiful, and there is no question this is a place that fits us and fits the work the Lord has for us to do.
Starting The Work
When we first landed in Phoenix, we didn't jump in to starting gatherings right away. There was enough other things going on that we didn't need to figure that out right away, so we visited other churches around. About a month in, our team verbalized that it was time to start gathering! We happened to have some friends - Jeremiah and Kara Carlson - coming to town to adopt a baby and so we invited them to our first gathering. It was a beautiful beginning to our next adventure. Jesus is good!
Our church pioneering leverages technology differently than most other churches out there. Rather than structuring our church as an organization, we are working to represent it as an open-ended game that we all play together which produces kingdom activities. (Somewhat like Uber turns getting passengers from point A to point B into a game people play together, or Wikipedia turns article creation into a game people play together). Practically speaking this means we need a lot more technological infrastructure than a church plant usually needs. So I've been working hard to get the first draft of that built for us along with all the other activities.
It's been so encouraging to see how this approach is working. A more open framework like this does incredible things to people: I'm watching people come alive as they step into new levels of ownership and contribution in their church experience. And this isn't just people stepping into new avenues of leadership, this is people living as owners of their church in a way I haven't seen before. I'm really excited to see how it continues as we build out more layers and as we scale to more people.
Making New Friends
As we've been doing all of this work, we have been working to connect with people local to the area and build our team. We've been able to sync up with a number of old friends who are in the area along with new friends who God is drawing to what we're doing. It's unbelievably exciting! Our group grown - probably just a little bit less than doubled - and God is so obviously in the mix. His goodness and faithfulness are so clearly on display, and we're just getting started!!
There is much work to be done ahead in so many areas. We stand at just the very beginning of all of this: the beginning of our new season here and what all it entails (including our first Phoenix summer, which is just getting underway in earnest - but "its a dry heat", right?), the beginning of our work pouring into our team and building our tools, and the beginning of welcoming new friends on the journey and blessing what God is doing in their lives. But as I stand here, just a few months in, I am overcome with gratitude at God's goodness and enthusiasm for all that God has ahead!
More to come in another update soon! (I hope!)
How to be Praying for Us
Prayer is such a big deal, and this church pioneering work is far from uncontested. Our team regularly comments on the intensity and warfare of what we're doing - and we're still just getting started! We value every person who partners with us in prayer immensely! Here are the prayers we need right now:
Protection from every attack of the enemy while we do this work! As you might expect, he's been attacking finances, health, houses, relationships, and everything else.
That all of us that moved to AZ continue to settle in and figure life out here. It's coming, but this is a massive life change for all of us, and the adjustment is very much a layered process.
That we continue to connect with the right people to join our church-pioneering work.
On a personal note, Brittany and I have been journeying through a terminal health situation with her sister. Prayers for that whole process are incredibly appreciated.
On another personal note, I probably need about 20% more of my personal support raised than where I'm presently at. Prayers for that are deeply appreciated - and if God moves on you to give, please let me know!
If you want to join our intercessory prayer support team - or if you want to give financially to the work we're doing - hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Putty Putman's Spirit-inspired innovative insights come from his wild journey with Jesus from physicist to pastor to entrepreneur to author and speaker. His three main passions are the Holy Spirit, effective communication, and journeying toward the future God has for the church and the world.
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I reguarly release new articles, teachings and other resources about my three main passions: the Holy Spirit, communication and the future God is bringing us towards. If you want to track with what I'm creating, join my resourcing email list, illuminate. (Don't worry: I hate spam as much as you and won't send you junk.)
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